Sunday, December 03, 2006

What friends are for

Yesterday I had the most incredibly successful day shopping (for clothes) that I've ever had in my ENTIRE LIFE. I've been having a problem this year because I haven't bought any new winter clothes for so long that everything I have is either falling apart and/or getting holes that have to be patched up (the comfortable things I like wearing) or sitting there begging to be worn but never worn because ... well, basically I don't feel comfortable in them. (Those are mistakes I bought myself because I'm such a horrible shopper, or things I had given to me which look good on other people but don't quite suit me.) Things were getting desperate, so I went shopping last Sunday for the first time in ages, and spent about 6 hours walking around Kobe and buying nothing except several cups of coffee. I ended up exhausted and depressed by the whole exercise.

Obviously that didn't work, but then I remembered that last year before going to Europe I went shopping with a friend, and she gave good advice for clothes that I actually ended up wearing. It was just a couple of simple things, not expensive, but they were so successful I wore them almost the entire time I was away. That seemed like a good sign, so I asked her if she'd come shopping with me again this weekend. She was enthusiastic, and suggested meeting in Kobe today, which made my heart sink to my boots (since I spent so long there last weekend, so unsuccessfully), but I decided I should trust her.

We met, had a leisurely lunch at an Italian restaurant (lovely) and then set off. In the first place we went to, a shop I barely glanced at last weekend (pah! nothing there for me) I bought a skirt and two knitted jacket/cardigan things and a scarf, all very cheaply. The skirt is GENIUS. It was the sort of thing that you look at and think, well, maybe... but the moment I put it on there was no question, it was MADE for me. At the next place I got a pair of corduroy trousers. I'd already looked at on the rack and thought, nah, not for me, then my friend got to them and said, "Try these one, go on, just TRY!" and they fit perfectly and feel wonderfully comfortable, besides looking great and being on sale (some French designer label with a terrifying original price) and another spectacular skirt also on sale, designer, Italian, which I'd also passed by and my friend picked up. When I tried that one on I said, "There's something funny about the shape, am I wearing it the right way round?" and my friend turned it around so the zip was at the back where it was supposed to be and we both had another "Ooh!" moment - that skirt hangs beautifully when you have it the right way round. (But who would have paid ¥50,000 for it? Are they mad?) At the same place I got another knitted jacket they practically gave to me because they'd forgotten to put in the buttonholes, but it looks wonderful without them so who cares? After that we popped into an antique shop that also just happened to have some second hand designer clothes, and I got yet another skirt, wool, gorgeous, and a beautiful short tailored wool jacket, one button missing, both at giveaway prices.

Then it was boots time. Off we went to shoe shops, and I bought a pair of boots which fit like gloves and make me look TALL because they're sort of platform, not the sort of thing I usually wear but they look great and are really comfortable, but will I break an ankle? I walked up and down and up and down and up and down the shop trying to decide if they were good enough to work in, and finally decided to risk it. At the very least I can wear them for social events, if they turn out to be not comfortable enough for work.

Finally I took my friend to see the ox-blood-red Doc Martens which were the only things I tried on last week. I hadn't been able to decide. Too young for me? Too bright? Help! As soon I put them on she said "BUY THEM, THEY LOOK WONDERFUL!" and of course she was right, so I bought them. They were the most expensive purchase of the day but I expected that one. Feet are important, as you quickly find out when you're on them all day, and I don't care if I pay a lot as long as I'll be wearing them a lot. I've been wearing the same pair of boots almost daily for about five years now because everything else makes my feet hurt, and foot surgery is more expensive than good shoes, as several teachers I know have found out. I'm hoping that of these two new pairs at least one will be bearable on full teaching days.

Getting all this stuff home almost broke my elbows, but it was worth it. I have never felt so good about buying so much. It is all stuff I will wear. All I need now is a few more different coloured turtleneck cotton sweaters from Uniqlo and I will be able to mix and match and look fabulous. Or at least fabulously different from the way I've been looking the last few winters. My friend is a wonderful person to shop with. When I am uncertain she says, "NO!" or, alternatively, "YES!" and there is no waffling. I tried everything on again when I got home, and so far nothing has looked like a mistake. Nothing is startlingly different. (Startlingly different doesn't work when you tend to wear the same things for years.) It is all quality stuff I can wear for a long time. And now I can get rid of some things I've been wearing to work that are well past their wear-to-work condition, although there is a sweater I might have to keep despite the frayed cuffs and thin patches. It's only fifteen years old, and while it may be a little too shabby to wear it to work (although that didn't stop me last week) I'm sure it has a couple more years in it.

Usually shopping for clothes makes me miserable, but yesterday was fun. It was also incredibly quick. We got everything except the Doc Martens in the first couple of hours. The Doc Martens were a last minute thing we decided to check after our second coffee shop break, when we thought we had finished. I'm glad I got them. I now have some 'kick-your-arse' boots, and I shall wear them to work on days when I want to scare my students AND I will look good while doing so. Ha!

After getting home I emailed my friend to thank her for her help and for the fun I had. I think it was the first time I've ever really enjoyed shopping for clothes. Today I got an email back from her saying that she'd had a good time, too.

"Can't wait to spend more of your money," she wrote, and I thought, "Me, too!" Then I got worried. This is a new happy thing I'd better not get TOO excited about. It could get expensive if I indulged too often. Once or twice a year is probably about right.

And anyway, I still think that life would be a lot easier if we were covered in fur.


Megan said...

What a great friend! I absolutely HATE shopping, particularly for clothes. I should try bringing a stylish friend along next time. It's funny how their eyes will see something totally differently from ours. Well done!

Cheryl said...

I am very jealous.
Any chance of some photos? Even headless ones?

Congrats - wonderful for you!

Anonymous said...

Shopping? I am allergic to shopping. Most of my wardrobe consists of plain t-shirts, and a few long sleeved shirts for formal occasions.

I need a friend like yours too!

Anonymous said...

Can I borrow your friend? I am a terrible shopper, and now I need clothes! I've been working on it for months, and I haven't bought a thing.